Gifts Tied to Opioid Sales Invite a Question: Should Museums Vet Donors?

The New York Times, December 1, 2017

"Visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s white porcelain plaza in London commonly walk past a wall that says “The Sackler Courtyard.” About a mile away, the words “Serpentine Sackler Gallery” appear above a colonnade running along the front of a former gunpowder repository turned art space.

And across the Atlantic, the family’s name is attached to centers and programs at institutions like the Dia Arts Foundation, the Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History.

Since the 1970s, the Sackler family has donated millions of dollars to prominent museums and cultural institutions. The name has become nearly synonymous with the arts.

But two recent magazine articles, in The New Yorker and Esquire, have highlighted several family members’ connection to something else: OxyContin, a powerful painkilling narcotic that public officials say is among the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths.

The reports focused on members of the Sackler clan who can trace part of their fortunes to Purdue Pharma, the privately held company that produces the drug. In 2007, the parent company of Purdue pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of misbranding OxyContin with the intent to defraud or mislead. (The Sacklers personally were not accused of wrongdoing.) Now Purdue faces new lawsuits by state authorities as well as another federal investigation."

More here.